Sexy Herbs: The Aphrodisiacal Powers of Truffles and Cilantro


I recently began a resurrection of sorts, writing stories in the vein of Cocktails & Conversations from the Astral Plane for Devour. In the teaser below you'll eavesdrop on three strangers as their night evolves into unctuous exchanges involving truffles and cilantro. Click through for the conclusion and cocktail recipes.  Many thanks to Clive Watson of Triple Sequitur for helping this come to life, and Sam Thompson for introducing me to the Chicago Fizz.
  

 Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, 1885

Cast in the piano glow of fading candles, the end of the evening lingered alive in specks of conversation as I swept the floor among the gimlet-eyed. Hiding behind my work, I made my eavesdropping rounds. One woman, who’d out-wined her friend four glasses to two, repeatedly insisted in a voice meant to shout down a crowd of naysayers, “No. No. No. In tantric, your heartbeats need to match up…”

A gray-haired couple sat leaning forward over the bar, each with an arm around the other, whispering to each other. Every now and then the woman giggled and his chuckle chirped shortly after. They reminded me of a teenage romance that could never be, finally finding fruit.
Keeping on, I locked in around a group of three: two men and a woman. All strangers initially, each arrived during the slow build up to the 7:30 grind four or five drinks/hours ago. The woman worked in film—costumes, I’d guess. The older gentleman, who’d bought the last bottle, consulted corporations. The younger gent in a bow-tie, now loosened, probably hailed from lawyer stock. Each placed dinner orders before the dining room began to bulge, forcing upon us their overflow of guests. Service slowed as drink tickets piled up, but these three managed to land ahead of the curve and developed a lax camaraderie.
“Raw egg?!” the woman asked, scanning our cocktail list. Duty bound, both men turned at the same time, charging her up.
“The Chicago Fizz was a fog-cutter,” I explained, “a gloom-lifter, a corpse-reviver.  People drank Fizzes to resurrect the morning-after.”
“I’ll try one,” she said, and the men congratulated her, each with his own story of crazy things consumed on the road. Now, hours later, having come into their cups, they’d suddenly broke new ground over the aphrodisiacal powers of cilantro.  
Flowering Cilantro
photo: H. Zell 
Wikimedia Commons 
Collected in hurried scribbles on a pile of cocktail napkins found wadded up in a pant pocket the following morning, here's what I overheard:
“Your sosommé was soup,” she said, nodding to the older gentleman. “And mine was raw tomato. What’s yours?”
The younger man leaned forward, then sat back, battling with something, before, finally, “Truffles.” His small audience made the outraged faces the context of their conversation required.
Feeling the need to defend himself, he sat up, eyes bulging. “Here’s why: First, they’re all farmed by female pigs.”
“Yeah,” the woman said. “And they’re delicious!”
The older gentleman nodded. “My wife and I paid $50 a plate for black truffle risotto and it was incredible!”
The younger shook his head. “I find something downright repulsive about them. Everyone treats them like this awesome delicacy, but they really just smell like…”
Her eyes perked up, “What?” 
“Think of it this way,” he back-pedaled. “Aside from the way they look, truffles grow two-to-three feet underground in the gnarled roots of oaks. Female pigs must have great snouts to find them. But why are they attracted to them in the first place? Because truffles contain the same chemical produced in the male boars’ sex glands. 
"But that’s not even the freakiest part. Turns out the same musky substance is produced in human sex glands. It’s actually secreted from our armpits.”Downing a large sip of wine, the woman’s eyes widened.

“It’s true,” the older said. “It’s amazing how close our genetic make-up is to pigs.”
“That’s crazy!” she held back her outrage. “You’re basically saying we like truffles so much because they remind us of our own B.O.?
“So-sue-me!” the younger lifted his arms triumphantly. “And it gets even weirder.”
“How?”
“Only the females search for truffles…”
“Okay....”
Seeing where he was leading her, the older gentleman cut in. “So it would have you believe that male humans who like truffles, on some primordial level, are attracted to other men, since the chemical comes from the sex glands of other males.”
Uproarious laughter covered my retreat.
“Yes,” the younger nodded, “I smell truffles and it’s unctuous; it is of the sex—and not the kind of sex I want to be on board with.”
“It’s musky and deep,” she agreed. “And it’s kinda like….”
“Yeah,” his pace speeding up, “And to me, everything connoted by female sex, I’m good with—like when I metaphorized cunnilingus, it was in the direction of snack foods. There are a lot of parallels. Salt-and-vinegar chips are called crotch-chips for a reason…”